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Loyalist prisoners at Yorktown

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  • Loyalist prisoners at Yorktown

    I was wondering what happened to the Loyalists who were part of the surrender. Washington refused point blank to give a guarantee of there good treatment in there terms. So how many did give up and what was there treatment like ?

  • #2
    Sorry, couldn't answer your question. Just happened to see "Yorktown" in your title, because I noticed the 230th anniversary of Yorktown seems to have gone by without so much of a peep on this forum, unless I missed something.
    You'll live, only the best get killed.

    -General Charles de Gaulle

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    • #3
      Seems to me that there wasn't much choice but surrender of the Loyalists-they lost and they certainly could not break out or be rescued by the Royal Navy.

      Sincerely,
      M
      We are not now that strength which in old days
      Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
      Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
      To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Massena View Post
        Seems to me that there wasn't much choice but surrender of the Loyalists-they lost and they certainly could not break out or be rescued by the Royal Navy.

        Sincerely,
        M
        I agree but I was wondering what happened to them after the surrender

        Comment


        • #5
          They probably went north into Canada, at least when the war was over.

          Sincerely,
          M
          We are not now that strength which in old days
          Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
          Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
          To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

          Comment


          • #6
            John Graves Simcoe commanded the Queen's Rangers a loyalist unit and wrote a journal about his experiences during the war and while at Yorktown. The following is an excerpt from it.

            ...the firing soon after ceasing, it was understood that Earl Cornwallis had proposed a cessation of hostilities, for the purpose of settling the terms on which the posts of York and Gloucester were to be surrendered. On the first confirmation of this supposition, Lt. Col. Simcoe sent Lt. Spencer to his Lordship, to request that as his corps consisted of loyalists, the objects of the enemy's civil persecution, and deserters, if the treaty was not finally concluded, the he would permit him to endeavour [p254] to escape with them in some of those boats which Gen. Arnold had built; and that his intention was to cross the Chesapeake and land in Maryland, when, from his knowledge of the inhabitants of the country and other favourable circumstances, he made no doubt of being able to save the greatest part of the corps and carry them into New-York. His Lordship was pleased to express himself favourably in regard to the scheme, but said he could not permit it to be undertaken, for that the whole of the army must share one fate.24 The capitulation was signed on the 19th of October.25 Earl Cornwallis, on account of Lieut. Col. Simcoe's dangerous state of health, permitted him to sail for New-York in the Bonetta, which by an article in the capitulation was to be left at his disposal, a sea-voyage being the only chance, in the opinion of the physicians, by which he could save his life. On board of this vessel sailed as many of the Rangers, and of other corps, deserters from the enemy, as she could possibly hold; they were to be exchanged as prisoners of war, and the remainder of Earl Cornwallis's army were marched prisoners into the country. Lt. Col. Simcoe, on his arrival at New-York, was permitted by Sir Henry Clinton to return to England; and his Majesty, on the 19th December, 1781, was graciously pleased to confer upon him the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the army, the duties and title of which he had enjoyed from the year 1777, and which had been made permanent to him in America in 1779. Capt. Saunders arriving from Charles Town, took the command of that part of the corps [p255] which had come to New-York in the Bonetta. Many of the soldiers, who were prisoners in the country, were seized as deserters from Mr. Washington's army, several enlisted in it to facilitate their escape, and, being caught in the attempt, were executed: a greater number got safe to New-York, and, had the war continued, there was little doubt but the corps would have been re-assembled in detail. The Rangers were so daring and active in their attempts to escape, that, latterly, they were confined in gaol; Capt. Whitlock, who commanded them while prisoners in the country, was one of the Captains who drew lots with Captain Asgil to suffer for Huddy's death.
            A Journal of the Operations of the Queen's Rangers can be viewed online here or download a copy from here.
            Last edited by taco; 27 Oct 12, 20:11.
            To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain, and a positive crime in the statesman. - George Santayana

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Massena View Post
              They probably went north into Canada, at least when the war was over.

              Sincerely,
              M
              I ment as actual POW's

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by taco View Post
                John Graves Simcoe commanded the Queen's Rangers a loyalist unit and wrote a journal about his experiences during the war and while at Yorktown. The following is an excerpt from it.



                A Journal of the Operations of the Queen's Rangers can be viewed online here or download a copy from here.
                Cheers

                Comment


                • #9
                  The German enlisted prisoners at Yorktown were released in Jan 1783 and shipped home. At least those who could still be found.

                  The officers were given parole and then exchanged before leaving Yorktown. They were allowed on three ships to NY.

                  I do not know if I have run across anything to make me think the Loyalists were treated differently than the other prisoners. There were a fair number of them.

                  Queen's Rangers
                  British Legion
                  Althouse co of NY Vols
                  Arnold's regiment (although Benedict was long gone)

                  There were some (I think mainly from the British Legion and Benedict Arnold's regiment) that were deserters from the CA who had turned. I believe Washington did hang a few of those.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I can't speak for the Loyalists who surrendered at Yorktown. But in July 1779 the Continental Corps of Light Infantry, commanded by Anthony Wayne, captured a company of the Loyal American Regiment, including three officers and 53 enlisted soldiers, at the battle of Stony Point. In this case the Continentals dealt with the Loyalists in the same way as the British prisoners, in that the officers were paroled and the soldiers sent to the Commissary of Prisoners in Philadelphia. Two of the Loyalists were deserters from the Continental Army and sent back to their regiments. One can only imagine that they did not receive a warm reception.

                    I don't know if the same policy applied at Yorktown, but this is one example of how the Continentals treated captured Loyalists.

                    Mike Schellhammer
                    Author of:
                    George Washington and the Final British Campaign for the Hudson River, 1779
                    and
                    The 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Civil War
                    Mike
                    Michael Schellhammer
                    Author of George Washington and the Final British Campaign for the Hudson River, 1779
                    and
                    The 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Civil War

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mwschel View Post
                      I can't speak for the Loyalists who surrendered at Yorktown. But in July 1779 the Continental Corps of Light Infantry, commanded by Anthony Wayne, captured a company of the Loyal American Regiment, including three officers and 53 enlisted soldiers, at the battle of Stony Point. In this case the Continentals dealt with the Loyalists in the same way as the British prisoners, in that the officers were paroled and the soldiers sent to the Commissary of Prisoners in Philadelphia. Two of the Loyalists were deserters from the Continental Army and sent back to their regiments. One can only imagine that they did not receive a warm reception.

                      I don't know if the same policy applied at Yorktown, but this is one example of how the Continentals treated captured Loyalists.

                      Mike Schellhammer
                      Author of:
                      George Washington and the Final British Campaign for the Hudson River, 1779
                      and
                      The 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Civil War
                      Your right that is 1 example there is also the example of what happened after Kings Mountain I guess it depended on who they were facing or captured by.

                      In this case Cornwallis request in regards to fair treatment of Loyalist prisoners was the only request Washington refused to grant in the surrender terms hence why I asked as the fact he refused to grant it obviously implies .

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Being surrendered to or captured by the Continental Army, which was built on the model of the British Army and commanded by Washington was quite a bit different from being captured by volunteer riflemen under their own commanders who may or may not have personal grudges to settle with Loyalists, and vice versa. The latter could get you hanged and your farm or home burned to the ground.

                        During the War of the Revolution quite lively internicine warfare occurred in the Hudson Valley in New York state and in the south. Getting captured was not a good idea-nor was getting captured by American Indians and Loyalists.

                        Sincerely,
                        M
                        We are not now that strength which in old days
                        Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                        Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                        To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          All true and good points Massena -

                          And even trained and disciplined Continentals were sometimes subject to the virulent passions common in a Revolution.

                          In the summer of 1779 Washington rushed three Continental divisions from New Jersey to New York to block a British advance up the Hudson River. In early June the divisions camped near the town of Smith's Clove, west of West Point, and a patrol from Maj. Henry Lee's Legion captured three Continental deserters. The captain commanding the patrol executed and decaptiated the one deserter that was American-born. Lee had the deserter's head placed on a pole at the Smith's Clove camp. Of course both the execution and the mutilation absolutely contradicted Continental Army policy. Washington strongly disapproved of the events, chastised Lee, and ordered the body buried immediately, especially to prevent similar treatment of American prisoners. Addressing the incidents, Lee responded to Washington, somewhat dryly, "I believe here it has had a very immediate effect for the better on both troops and inhabitants."

                          I think the bottom line is that revolutions and civil wars can be inherently nasty business for all involved.

                          Mike
                          Author of:
                          George Washington and the Final British Campaign for the Hudson River, 1779and
                          The 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Civil War
                          Mike
                          Michael Schellhammer
                          Author of George Washington and the Final British Campaign for the Hudson River, 1779
                          and
                          The 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Civil War

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Lee was especially blood-thirsty at times. Washington, who did not hesitate to execute those who deserved it, such as deserters, was correct, as usual, in this case. Lee was lucky not to be more seriously disciplined.

                            And war itself is a nasty business-it was then and it is now.

                            Sincerely,
                            M
                            We are not now that strength which in old days
                            Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                            Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                            To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              All too true my friend!

                              Mike
                              Mike
                              Michael Schellhammer
                              Author of George Washington and the Final British Campaign for the Hudson River, 1779
                              and
                              The 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Civil War

                              Comment

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